Ali Khosroshahin has been the USC women’s soccer coach since 2007. Already, they have dropped seven games this year, the most in Khosroshahin’s tenure and the most since they lost nine games in 2004.
This weekend the Women of Troy (3-7, 0-1) face what could already be described as must-wins. USC hosts No. 19 Oregon State today and Oregon on Sunday. USC is 0-5 at McAlister Field this year, and the No. 19 Beavers (7-2-1, 1-0) will be the fourth ranked opponent the Women of Troy have faced.
As has been the case all season, no matter the opponent, no matter the venue, Khosroshahin is focused exclusively on his team — and with good reason.
“There’s a lot of talent in that group,” Khosroshahin said. “We have a lot of talent. Maybe if I didn’t think we had as much talent as our opponents I’d be more worried about them. But we can play with anyone and we’ve showed it.”
Indeed, USC’s seven losses have been by a combined eight goals. USC’s most lopsided loss has been 3-1 to San Diego in the second game of the year. Of particular note, they have lost 2-1 to No. 23 Portland, 2-1 in overtime to then-No. 23 Texas and 1-0 to then-No. 4 Oklahoma State.
“We’re a few bounces away from being 9-1,” Khosroshahin said. “I mean that Oklahoma State game says it all. We outplayed them. We outplayed the No. 2 team in the country [the Cowgirls have climbed to No. 2 in the rankings this week]. We just had one let down, they got one lucky bounce and that was it.”
Last week against Washington State the Women of Troy nearly took a 2-0 lead when senior midfielder Carly Butcher rocketed a shot from the top of the penalty box that drilled the crossbar and bounced straight down. With the score still 1-0, the Cougars attempted a center pass that was poorly struck, but found its way through the mass of bodies in the penalty box, hit the post and bounced in.
“We rip one off the bar and it comes out, and they just barely kiss one off the post and it bounces in,” Khosroshahin said. “We need some bounces.”
But Khosroshahin is not making excuses.
“We know what our problem is,” Khosroshahin said. “We can’t keep letting our guard down defensively. That’s the last place on the field we can make a mistake.”
Defensively, the Women of Troy will have their hands full against Oregon State.
The Beavers boast a balanced attack that features five players who have scored two or more goals this season.
Junior forward Chelsea Buckland and sophomore forward Jenna Richardson lead the team in scoring with six and three goals, respectively.
The Beavers’ defense is no slouch, either. Patrolling the net for Oregon State is senior goalkeeper Colleen Boyd. She recorded 14 shutouts last season. This year she has registered four shutouts and allowed just five goals in her eight appearances.
To change things up a bit for this weekend’s play, Khosroshahin appointed senior forward Samantha Johnson and sophomore defender Autumn Altamirano as additional captains.
Altamirano and Johnson will wear the captain’s bands for the first time against the Beavers Friday at 3 p.m.